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Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

What is devising? It’s a process of playwriting as a group. Plays are created through improvisation, process dramas, and a lot of teamwork. The Devising Unit includes an overview to get you started, and 12 lessons jam-packed with activities.

This unit includes doing some basic Forum Theatre, which is a technique coined by Augusto Boal. It covers Process Drama in a variety of ways such as Hot Seating, Role on the Wall, and a fun exercise called “Character Bag”. There are also some great bonding games for your students to enjoy.

This unit is designed to show students (and teachers) that playwriting doesn’t have to be a solitary, lonely exercise. It can be a fun, sometimes chaotic, and very energetic experience.

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What is Theatre?

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the question “what is theatre?” and analyze it by comparing film and television productions. Each session comes with an journal prompt, a warm up game, and an exit slip for assessment. This is a great unit to start off a school year.

Feel free to customize it as much as you want, and refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials. While you’re analyzing “what is theatre?” with your students, you can introduce classroom procedures and do icebreaker/trust games. You can also remind the kids that Theatre is Ensemble - all of the games they play help to build ensemble.

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Ancient Greek Theatre

by Karen Loftus

This unit on Ancient Greek Theatre focuses on the function of the chorus, the choral ode, and the details of the theatre space. It touches on plays and playwrights of the era, culminating in a final project of a modern version of Medea that includes a choral ode.

A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Improvisation

by Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn 5 specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humour.

There are so many different ways to approach a unit on improvisation. Keep in mind that you will have students who are really excited about this unit and some students who dread it. It’s best to start with low risk games and exercises and then build up to higher risk ones. Low risk games in this situation mean partnered interactions that aren’t shared with the whole class. Teachers can also refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

The unit culminates in a short improv performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips.

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Commedia Dell'Arte

by Karen Loftus

Students are introduced to, analyze, and explore the history, characters, and style of Commedia dell’arte. Commedia Dell’Arte is a theatre history unit mixed with improvisation, physicalization, and exploring specific characters.

In this unit, we’re going to focus on three main aspects:
(1) Causes and Effects of Commedia (History), (2) Stock Characters, (3) Commedia Performance Practices.

The unit culminates in a commedia performance. A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Elizabethan Theatre

by Karen Loftus

How do you introduce students to Shakespeare? This unit introduces the bard through life in Elizabethan England, the playwrights, players and playhouses. It also explores how to approach unfamiliar words and context clues in Shakespeare’s text.

As with any theatre history unit, you have to decide what’s most important to introduce to the students. For this unit, we’ll focus on three things in the three different categories. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Playwriting

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the structural elements of a play: character, objective, obstacles, tactics, resolution, and raising the stakes. They will also learn how to write character-driven dialogue and stage directions.

The unit culminates in a group written original play which is performed in front of the class. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Monologue Writing Made Easy

by Matthew Banaszynski

Join Matt Banaszynski in this dynamic unit designed to introduce students to the process of starting, drafting, polishing, and performing a self-created, stand-alone monologue.

Students will learn the steps involved in going from a simple idea to a full monologue, using the Story Mountain framework. They will also provide feedback, self-critiques, and teacher feedback during the process.

This is a great way for students to get creative and engaged in a genre that is meaningful to them, and can be customized to the needs of your classroom.

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Puppetry

by Jenny Goodfellow

This unit on Puppetry is designed for middle school and up, to introduce students to the material and get them comfortable with performing in a safe and low exposure environment.

This is a unit that builds to a culminating experience for your students. Each lesson is designed to explore techniques, provide opportunities for creative collaboration among your students, and give them opportunities to perform. Some of the lessons require materials to build or create puppets. Puppetry can be as easy as drawing a face on your finger for finger puppets, to actually purchasing your own finger puppets for students to use.

While the focus of this unit is puppetry, your students will explore other skills as well. There’s the obvious ones of creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. They are also going to explore storytelling, performing skills, and playwriting.

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Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

WARNING: This unit is ABSURD. However, instructor Lea Marshall decided to do something really ABSURD with the unit, which was make it a bit more predictable. First, the unit takes two lessons to go over the Historical and Philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. It starts with just a visual exercise to really bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the Absurdist movement into the Theatres.

Next, students break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. With each lesson that introduces an Absurdist Element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element. Then, students explore the element through an Absurdist text. This will help familiarize the students with the 4 Absurdist scripts used in the unit. These bite sized forays into the scripts will help students to choose a script to fully immerse themselves in for the final project.

As a final project, students will choose one script to work with, and choose the format of their project (performance, costume or set design, or playwright).

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Agatha Rex and Ancient Greek Theatre

by Angel Borths

Help…It’s all Greek to me! Join Angel Borths in this unit that uses a modern adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Antigone to introduce Middle School students to Ancient Greek Theatre.

Have your students read Percy Jackson and want to find out more about Ancient Greece? Then, this unit is for you. This unit is designed for middle and high school students and will take you through the basics of classical Greek theatre and pairs it with a modern adaptation of the story of Antigone called Agatha Rex by Lindsay Price. Students will learn vocabulary, design, and basic theory surrounding classical Greek theatre. Students will also enjoy the mask building component of this unit, as they learn to disappear into the character of a mask, like the first actors did on a Greek stage thousands of years ago.

The unit culminates in a scene performance with masks.

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Shakespeare Performance

by Anna Porter

In this unit by Anna Porter, students are introduced to the works of Shakespeare and explore how to bring a character to life in a monologue performance. Students are also introduced to the tools to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. Through this eleven lesson series, students will participate in class discussions, activities and performance. Assessment tools include informal assessment, submission of textual analysis work and a final performance.

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Unlocking Shakespeare's Text

by Anna Porter

Shakespeare’s text holds valuable tools that students can use to unlock and understand meaning. In this unit by Anna Porter, students explore how to use the tools of research, context, textual analysis, imagery and punctuation to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. This unit is created for an Intermediate to Advanced drama class with a basic background in plot structure and acting technique.

Through this five lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions, activities and performance to explore the tools used to unlock a text. Assessment tools include informal assessment as well as a final group presentation and performance.

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Pantomime

by Anna Porter

In this unit, students explore how to communicate with their body by exploring elements of physicality and Pantomime. Lesson one helps students explore body awareness as well as the use of the senses and details in pantomime performance. In lesson two, students explore body language and how it is used to communicate by examining the art of flirting. Lesson three helps students create a distinct physical characterization. Lesson four introduces students to the quality of Pantomime – Consistency. In lesson five, students explore the quality of exaggeration in pantomime. In the final lesson, students prepare a pantomime story for performance.

Through this six lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions and practice the elements taught by performing for their peers and as a class. Assessment tools include both informal assessment as well as a final Pantomime performance.

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Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

In this unit, students will work with their peers through a series of exercises and activities designed to lead them through the process of creating, writing, rehearsing, and performing a new, original script.

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The Working Playwright *Hyperdoc

by Lindsay Price

In this unit, students will gain insight into the day to day responsibilities of a working artist. This unit aims to illuminate for students that creative expression is only one element in a sustainable arts career, and attempt to address the essential question: How does a playwright turn creative expression into a career? The culminating project for the unit is a playwright submissions packet for a theatre company.

This unit is delivered in hyperdoc format. What does that mean? A hyperdoc is an interactive tool that encourages digital learning. In this case, students are given a document on a subject, and there they can read articles, watch videos, do some independent research, and apply what they’ve learned. Because they’re working on their own, students are in charge of their own pacing.

Before you start the unit, ensure you read the Teacher Guide first. It will give you clear instructions on how to distribute the hyperdoc format and make it easy for you and your students.

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Playwriting Unit: Beginner

by Lindsay Price

This unit provides an introduction to the process of playwriting in a practical step-by-step framework. Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit will give students the tools they need to write their first short play and gain the confidence they need to write further. The culminating project for this unit is a three- to five-page play or extended scene.

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Playwriting Unit: 10 to 15 Minute Play

by Lindsay Price

This playwriting unit offers lessons for students to complete a 10- to 15-minute play, instructed by professional playwright Lindsay Price.

The unit includes class writing time as well as students writing on their own; in setting it up this way, the unit can be interspersed between other lessons.

Students are challenged to apply themselves to write on their own - as all writers must do. Class time also focuses on giving and receiving feedback.

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Unit Three: Building Improvised Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will understand the basic building blocks of a scene: The Who (characters/ relationship), the Where (setting), and the What (conflict – objectives/tactics). They will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal (pantomime) clues to communicate these scene details to an audience. They will continue to work on voice clarity, while also learning to open their body to an audience. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students work in pairs to improvise a scene.

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Unit Four: Intro to Scripted Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will be introduced to the most basic of scripts: the contentless/open scene script. They will use their knowledge of character/relationships, setting, objective, and tactics to add content to a contentless scene. Students will also learn the basics of set design and blocking, and will begin
using voice expression to communicate clearer characters. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students will work in pairs to add content to and perform a contentless scene.

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Creating a Musical: Project

by Annie Dragoo

Want a fun project that has your students collaborating and creating? In this unit by Annie Dragoo, students in groups will write and perform an original musical by adding modern songs to a traditional fairy tale story.

The six lessons take students from writing their script, to choreography and planned movement, to rehearsing, performing and evaluation.

The Rubric will focus on student performance. That means vocal delivery, emotional delivery, blocking/choreography, energy, focus, and characters.

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Unit Eight: Theatre of the Oppressed

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have a chance to merge their understanding of scene elements with their improvisation skills in this final unit based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre of the Oppressed is a style of theatre specifically created to highlight the injustices of power and oppression in society and to problem-solve ways to bring about change.

Starting with image theatre techniques to identify issues of power and oppression, students will then use forum theatre to create scenarios of oppression taken from their own lives and improvise realistic solutions.

The unit culminates in a performance in which students participate as both actors in a scene they create themselves and spect-actors in scenes created by their peers.

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Our Town Unit

by Lindsay Price

This is a read, discuss, and apply literature unit. Students will study the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

Our Town is often referred to as “nostalgic.” It’s seen as an antiquated look at a moment in time. But this play is called Our Town, not My Town. What’s happening in Grover’s Corners happened in the past, the distant past, in our present, and even in the future. The themes of the play—the ordinary versus universality, the concept of time, the cycle of life, the ignorance of humanity to the eternal—these are just as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when the play was written.

The purpose of the unit is not to have students recall knowledge about the play. Students will be able to identify, articulate, and dramatize text themes and concepts and compare/contrast these concepts to their own experiences.

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What is Theatre?

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students will establish a definition of theatre, know the difference between theatre and film, and start to explore who’s who in the theatre.

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Improvisation

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn five specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humor.

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Playwriting: Part 1

by Lindsay Price

Every drama program should have a playwriting unit. Playwriting applies creative thinking skills and, through feedback and revision, critical thinking skills. Playwriting also allows students to engage in self-expression. It is a powerful act to take one’s thoughts, give them to a character, and have them said aloud.

Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit is broken into two parts. This unit is Part 1.

Part 1 is a standalone playwriting unit for beginning writers. Students go step by step through the elements of the playwriting process, which culminates in a short scene, monologue, and character profile. All the exercises can be done synchronously in your class sessions or small groups through breakout rooms.

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Playwriting: Part 2

by Lindsay Price

Every drama program should have a playwriting unit. Playwriting applies creative thinking skills and, through feedback and revision, critical thinking skills. Playwriting also allows students to engage in self-expression. It is a powerful act to take one’s thoughts, give them to a character, and have them said aloud.

Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit is broken into two parts - this unit is Part 2.

You can continue the playwriting process from Part 1 by having students apply what they’ve learned through writing a five- to 10-page play. Or, if your students are familiar with the playwriting elements, perhaps they just do Part 2 of this unit. Students will write a first draft, revise, give and receive feedback, and read their work aloud. The unit assumes that either students have completed Part 1 or they already have a grounding in the playwriting form.

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Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

We included this unit in our Distance Learning Curriculum because if any group of students would understand how the world turned upside down and then apply it to theatre, it would be the students dealing with a global pandemic.

First, we take two lessons to go over the historical and philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. We start with a visual exercise to bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the absurdist movement into the theatres. Next, we break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. In each lesson that introduces an absurdist element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element.

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Playwriting Kickstart: Multi platform

by Lindsay Price

This unit focuses on the idea stage of playwriting. Before you start a playwriting project, take students through these lessons to provide students a step-by-step process for idea generation. When students are told they’re going to write a play, they often freeze. I can’t do it. I’m not creative; my ideas are stupid. The purpose of this unit is to give students a place to start and a way to move from finding a topic to creating an idea to writing theatrically on ideas.

This unit is designed to reach as many classroom environments as possible and includes: standard in-class lessons, instruction videos, instruction handouts, and quizzes.

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Character Creation: Superhero Series: Multi platform

by Lindsay Price and Kerry Hishon

This unit focuses on character creation: How do you create a character from the ground up? Use this unit as a precursor to a playwriting unit, to a devising unit, or to a class production.

Using the archetypes of the superhero, the sidekick, and the supervillain, students work on exercises to help them create unique characters through physical and vocal qualities, character profiles, and theatrical writing.

Because many of the exercises have an individual focus, this unit works in a distance learning environment or for your no-technology students.

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Impowerment Improv

by Jennine Profeta

Taking risks, learning to see failure as a gift, finding courage when we don't feel it, and having the awareness that what we say has an impact are social and emotional skills students will take beyond the classroom. These are skills that can be built through improv exercises.

The exercises in this unit are designed to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, and be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choices. Improv gives you the opportunity to draw attention to these important concepts and to talk about them.

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The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises

by Lindsay Price

The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises Course not only gives you ten great exercises to ease your students into the playwriting waters, it's also going to give you the confidence to teach playwriting to your students.

Each exercise comes with instruction, why the exercise is important, how to assess the exercise and something specific for you to try.

Many of the modules include assignments and rubrics so you will be fully prepared to comprehend, apply and teach every these exercises.

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Yes, And... How to Teach Improv

by Jennine Profeta

“Yes, and…” is the guiding principle behind all improv. This course will teach you how to teach improv, and more importantly how to give feedback to your students. The course looks at making strong offers and also using gibberish to ironically improv communication skills. You will also see how feelings can safely be used to add flavour and get laughs in our scenes.

Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course with a clear methodology for teaching and giving positive nurturing feedback. This course will give you all the tools and the insight you need to teach improv with confidence.

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Coaching Improv

by Jennine Profeta

Second City performer and theatre educator Jennine Profeta is back and ready to help you take your Improv classes to the next level. It’s all getting students to perform - and how to be a great improv coach who can keep them supported and grounded (and having fun!)

In this course, you’ll learn the golden rules of improv. You’ll learn a bunch of improv games (great for warm-ups, teaching tools, and even for competitions). You’ll learn Jennine’s tips and tricks for what to look for when coaching and how to troubleshoot common issues.

The course is designed to help you improv as an ensemble and give you the know-how to coach with confidence whether it’s in the classroom or on the stage!

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21st Century Skills Through Devising

by Allison Williams

Allison Williams leads the course: 21st Century Skills Through Devising. This course covers what devising is, why to do it, how to do it, and how your students can master the 21st Century Skills of collaborations and cooperation, critical thinking, creative thinking through devising.

High school is a great place to try devising with your students. But it’s not something you want to throw at your students without any preparation. Framework is important and this course takes you through a number of exercises you can take into the classroom tomorrow to help build a place of physical safety, a place where students work at making a lot of choices instead of waiting for the perfect choice, and a place where students feel comfortable making creative choices. The material also reviews the process of putting together a show from the idea/research stage to editing, to giving feedback.

Your students have what it takes to create their own material, collaborate with each other, and have a unique theatrical experience!

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Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom

by Julie Hartley

Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have: scenes packed with action; opportunities to explore comedy and physical theatre; rich themes and characters to act as springboards for devised theatre; the chance to work with our language at its finest and – most importantly – ideas that relate directly to the experiences and preoccupations of students.

Yet Shakespeare isn’t easy. The language can seem dense, and finding a way in can be tough – especially for drama teachers who have not themselves studied Shakespeare. That’s the goal of this course – to help teachers find a way in.

This course presents teachers with as many ways in to the exploration of Shakespeare as possible. Action scenes, themes, characters, different theatre styles, and devised theatre projects. Students will be armed with the tools they need to begin individually exploring monologues, or working together on scenes.

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Play Adaptation Project

by Lindsay Price

Adaptation is a fabulous classroom project: it requires students to analyze, adapt, modify, plan synthesize, devise. All the higher order thinking skills.

But you can’t just throw a narrator into a script and call it a day. You have to have a preparation process leading up to the writing process.

In this course you will learn practical exercises and a path to prepare your students to take on their own adaptation project. We’ll look at the guidelines to adaptation, things to think about when choosing a text, how to analyze the source material and writing that first draft.

So join me, Lindsay Price, in the Play Adaptation Project.

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Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality Play

by Wendy-Marie Martin

Who says theatre history has to be boring? Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality play is an interactive course by Wendy-Marie Martin, combining hands-on activities with research and analysis techniques leading to a full performance of the popular medieval morality play, Everyman.

This course gives students an overview of the medieval period and the various medieval play forms and teaches students the key points of storytelling and adaptation.

It includes dynamic individual and group exercises leading students from the first steps of the adaptation process through a final, full-class performance of Everyman—and proves, once and for all, that theatre history can be fun and exciting to learn.

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Impowerment Improv

by Jennine Profeta

Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course. This course was designed to give a teacher tools to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choice. The course includes modules on risk-taking, creating a safe environment, failure, confidence, and positive/negative speak.

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View all Standards for Alberta, Canada    Standards Master List

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